Baby Boomer Babbling-er-Musings

I'm from the baby boomer generation. I have a mop of white hair, courtesy of my gene pool. And a botox-free face that sports frown lines in the forehead and around the eyes. Love handles instead of a waistline. Can't say I'm exactly crazy about any of these old age indicators but I accept them with grace. And now I've lived long enough now that I ponder on a lot of things, new and old.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Theory of Pancake Relativity

It was on a trip to Tennessee in the 1970s that I met some relatives of my daughter’s father.  That’s a round-about way of saying “some relatives of my now ex-husband.”  These relatives lived in a big 1800s farmhouse way out in the country in a place called Franklin, which is near Nashville.  At breakfast on the first morning the farmhouse table was loaded with stacks of pancakes along with syrup and a big jar of peanut butter.  I watched as everyone enthusiastically spread peanut butter on top of their hot pancakes and then poured on the syrup.  No butter in sight.

I loved peanut butter.  Just not on my pancakes.  In my entire life I had never spread anything other than butter on my pancakes.  It almost seemed sacrilegious to eat pancakes without butter.  I was in my early twenties and had not yet discovered dining adventures to expand my palate horizons.  So when one of the cousins passed me the peanut butter jar, I was still so wet behind the ears that I was too timid to insist on butter.   

I slowly spread the peanut butter on my pancakes – very, very slowly so as to prolong the moment when I would have to taste this concoction.  I suppose I took a bit too long because one of the cousins noticed and said, “Have you ever eaten pancakes with peanut butter?”  When I gave a negative answer, then all eyes were on me.  Feeling a bit like an insect under an entomologist’s microscope, I brought the fork ever so slowly to my mouth. 

Everyone at the table had gone quiet as they waited for my reaction.  I chewed my first bite slowly.  I swallowed, smiled, and said, “This is really good.”  And it was!  I haven’t buttered my pancakes since that long-ago morning in Tennessee.  If you give me pancakes, then give me the peanut butter jar!

As a young wife and mother I mastered cooking pancakes early on.  The one thing I didn’t like about a pancake breakfast was that we ate separately.  Pancakes cool down quickly so the first pancake was always for my little daughter, Ashlee.  She ate while I started the next batch.  The next four to eight pancakes were for my husband and he ate while I was cooking the last batch of pancakes for myself.  Consequently, I always ended up eating alone.  That’s how my Mama cooked pancakes when I was a little girl and so that’s how I thought everyone did it.

My Big Pancake Revelation

It was the 1980s when I figured out a way for everyone in the family to eat hot pancakes at the same time.  It was my very own pancake brainstorm.  I was so swelled up with pride at my own cleverness that my big rad 80s hair almost touched the ceiling!  My large padded shoulders were thrown back with smugness and my collar was so filled with self-importance that it was standing up on its on!  

On the day of my Big Pancake Revelation I turned the oven to its lowest setting and put an oven-safe glass plate on the top rack.  When my oven reached the lowest temp, I turned it off.  When the first of the pancakes were done, I moved them from the griddle to the warm plate in the oven.  The oven was hot enough to keep the first pancakes warm until the last ones were cooked, but not hot enough to over-cook them.  At that moment, I felt like a female Einstein who had just discovered The Theory of Pancake Relativity!  The truth of the matter is that the light bulb had finally come on.

Tips for Pancakes:  Although I don’t consider myself a pancake connoisseur, the truth is that I have baked quite a few flapjacks over the years.  Depending on what is on my pantry shelf, I might use a homemade-from-scratch recipe or it could just as easily be one of those out-of-the-box mixes.  What I discovered through trial and error is that one should never over-stir the batter and that you don’t need to beat out every last lump.  Those little lumps are fine.  You can take my word for it – if you beat the heck out of the batter, the end result is always tough pancakes.

To determine if your griddle or pan is hot enough to start cooking pancakes, simply sprinkle a few drops of water on the surface.  If the water sizzles and evaporates quickly, then it’s hot enough.  How do you know when to flip?  Wait until there are bubbles forming on the top surface of the pancakes. Then flip!  Remember to put an oven-safe plate on the rack of a warm oven to keep your first pancakes warm while you cook the rest.  Oh wait.  Everyone already knew that one but me.

1 comment:

  1. mmmm, butter is for pancakes, peanut butter is for baking cookies with.

    When I was a teenager I had a friend who had come from England when she was 10. She stayed overnight once, and when breakfast turned out to be pancakes she was hesitant. On the table was our maple syrup and butter. My mom finally asked if she would rather have something else and she asked for strawberry jam to put on her pancakes.

    I was astonished, flabergasted and a little disgusted...I gagged as she she at her pancakes :)


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